Zionist Dialogue

Jews Leaving Home — Then and Now

By Herbert Belkin

In 1881, Czar Alexander II was assassinated and, of course, Jews were blamed for his murder. Life for Jews in the shtetls of Czarist Russia was never easy and, after this, it deteriorated even more. Restrictions on where Jews could live and how they could make a living reduced shtetl life to one of poverty, punctuated by violent pogroms. Generations of young Jewish men faced bleak futures with little hope for escape from drab shtetl life. For Jewish women, their futures were strictly limited to marriage and motherhood; nothing else was even considered.

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